This bar has now closed down.
Mr NQN was keeping a secret from me. I tried with all of my powers of persuasion but alas he wouldn't budge. My birthday dinner location was going to remain a secret until the very last minute.
One evening, a few nights prior he said to me "I've booked somewhere for your birthday on Saturday night...just the two of us" which surprised me because in the entire twelve years we've been together, he hasn't ever made a restaurant booking.
"It's Pizza Hut, all you can eat" he said giving me a cheeky grin and carried on the joke for several days.
The evening rolled around and he started to pace, nervous. "I'm a bit worried" he admitted. As for me, the control freak and organiser in me was getting very excited at not knowing what the plans were. I warned him that I was enjoying it so much that from now on, he might have to organise all meals. We got in the car and drove down Anzac Parade. In the left lane, I saw Cleveland Street coming up. "Ooh Cleveland street?" I asked and he drove straight past. Going into the tunnel heading north was another surprise and we settled into the lane going towards Mosman and Manly.
"Any idea where we are headed?" he asked. I thought about it, and said that since we had to leave at 7:15pm exactly and we would get to Mosman or Manly at 7;45pm and that was an awkward time for a booking, that maybe we were headed even further north?
I'm surprised again when he turns hard left and we head towards Cammeray. He pulls over and we walk into the door of Bar Fredo. We walk towards our table when I see to my right a large group of my nearest and dearest friends who yell out "Happy Birthday!" to me. Such naughty cheeky buggers and I have to say that they hid the secret very well. Some like Teena and Queen Viv even said that they would be away then so they couldn't make it. Others like Viggo and Louise we had seen only the night before and they had kept the secret completely without giving any hints!
We take a seat and have some champagne and I spend the first half hour in a daze as this is the second time Mr NQN had taken me completely by surprise (the first time was when he proposed). The food starts coming out and the service here is wonderful. Hot Dog, who is notoriously difficult with wait staff is immediately wrapped around the waiter's finger and tonight, we are dining from their $45 a head menu.
The mixed dips are the first to arrive and they are made up of tzatziki, hummus, taramosalata and they come with warm slices of fresh pita bread. The tzatziki is a favourite as it is creamy and fresh.
This was my favourite-what's not to love with chorizo and halloumi and the halloumi here was soft and squeaky and not hard at all. The balsamic reduction gave both the salty elements a nice sweetness.
The salt and pepper calamari was a tad too salty but the calamari itself was butter soft and piping hot and it came with a garlic, lemon aioli.
Always a crowd pleaser, the patatas bravas had pieces of crispy potato and a rich, spicy tomato based sauce on top.
The mains start arriving and we can smell the aroma of cinnamon as this dish is set down and it's a pan fried fillet of free range chicken breast topped with a slice of meltingly soft eggplant and halloumi cheese with a blanket of tomato, honey and cinnamon sauce. Whilst the flavour of this was good, the chicken was a little dry. To the side are green beans which are nicely cooked and sweet.
The seafood paella is packed with well cooked seafood. Sometimes the seafood in paella can be overcooked but these were all cooked til tender and the aroma of saffron is immediate as they bring them out. I can't help but go back for more morsels of seafood.
There was a change from the lamb skewers to the slow cooked lamb on the menu. The slow cooked lamb was so soft, rich and lovely. However I thought that the paella was the last dish so I filled up on that!
Ahh sneaky and clever Mr NQN! That afternoon he did the grocery shopping voluntarily by himself (which should have alerted me as he loathes it) and he went to a cake shop to buy a little birthday cake. Served alongside this was their tiramisu which was very soaked and had a strong coffee flavour. Mr NQN gets more alcohol in his piece than I do as mine doesn't taste much like alcohol so perhaps there was an uneven splashing of the alcohol.
So tell me Dear Reader, how do you feel about surprise birthday parties? Have you ever had one or planned one and if so, were you or the birthday person surprised?
This bar has now closed down.
504 Miller Street Cammeray NSW 2062
Tel: +61 (02) 8920 1083